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Overspent

October 8th, 2010 at 12:29 pm

September was another overspend month in Checkbook Number One. We had a problem with this in Checkbook Number One for several years, and I finally got it under control about two years ago. To keep it under control I have to work diligently, and it got away from me in May. Weíve been a little bit over every month since then. Itís time to get it back in line.

Checkbook Number One has four budget categories Ė Groceries, Gas, Church Contributions and Everything Else. (Bills such as Mortgage, Utilities, schooling expenses, and also Christmas are paid out of a different account). Gas was about right, and Church Contributions were accurate. The overspending occurred in Groceries Ė about 115% of the budgeted amount and Everything Else Ė about 125% of the budgeted amount.

I reviewed our Grocery and Everything Else purchases for September in detail. As usual it wasnít one big thing that sunk the budget but an accumulation of little stuff. In Groceries, we spent a little too much in the treat category and I also stocked up on some household staples without decreasing spending in other areas of the grocery budget. In Everything Else. . . a few too many trips to Starbucks. There were some unanticipated cash withdrawls by Mr H. I donít begrudge him that, but if I donít know about it until later Iíve spent the money elsewhere by the time I find out. Due to overspending in August this category also had less money in it.

For October, inspired by Denise (Thrift-O-Rama) and Laura (Love the Life You Live) I went through and figured out how much grocery money Iíd have to spend each week. Then I allocated how much I thought I would spend where (we get some food items on a schedule, direct from a farm). In the Everything Else category I tried to anticipate expenses for the month (ie, peopleís birthdays, Halloween costumes, etc) and write them down.

One week into October this is already putting us on the right path for the month. Iíve already had to consciously choose to spend Grocery money on some items and not others. We are on budget as of October 7th. Only three more weeks to go!

We've Come A Long Way

September 11th, 2010 at 01:29 pm

Our financial life, in a nutshell:

* Mr H's job continues to be stable. I anticipate it will be stable for another five to seven years.

* We haven't had any economic catastrophes. In that way our life is good.

* In March I bought two used curriculum items at the Goodwill outlet for $1 total. I sold them for a total of $8, less 15% (they were sold at used curriculum fair - 15% to the sponsoring organization). Correct my math if it's wrong, but isn't that a 485% profit?

* My brain has been in other places that aren't financial. We have overspent Checkbook Number One for a few months. The big difference between now and a few years ago: Mr H actually knew about it. I have made no progress on any of my goals.

* To counterbalance my lack of progress, Mr H has been consistent in the saving of money for retirement and a replacement vehicle. He has neatly handwritten all amounts in a manual ledger for several months.

* Mr H, on his own, opened up a Roth IRA with the saved money. He has a pretty conservative investment (he's even more risk averse than me) but he is happy with it. It's made more so far than our various savings accounts and CD's. He's tickled by that fact. **

* We meet regularly and have discussions about our finances. Mr H originally said every Sunday night. He's not that consistent, but I take what I can get and I don't remind him. If he "remembers" - great. If he doesn't it irritates me but I try to let it go.

A discussion about finances is really a discussion about future plans, hopes and goals. In that area we have more productive conversations than we have ever had. I wish I could be happier about this, but it feels like the first 16 years of our marriage (we have been married 17 years) were a complete waste of time. But if I set those thoughts aside (hard to do for me) we really have come a long way in the last three years.






** As a side note, I read on The Simple Dollar blog about the blog author's retirement investment strategy. He and his wife vary in their ability to tolerate risk, so they each choose what they want in their porfolio as if the other didn't exist. That seemed like a good strategy for us. It helps that they are reasonably financially sensible people.